7 Top Cable Glute Kickback Alternatives

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Find out what cable glute kickback alternatives you can do to work similar muscles in different ways.

Cable glute kickbacks can be great but not everyone has the equipment, time, or preference to do them.

Luckily, you can get many of the benefits of glute kickbacks from the substitutes below too.

Before going into the examples it is worth mentioning that resistance bands can be a good way to do glute kickbacks at home where a cable machine is less of an option.

1. Hip thrusts

If you know about glute bridges, the technique of hip thrusts will sound very familiar although there is a small difference.

For example, you need an elevated object, preferably a soft one, to lean against with your upper shoulder.

Once you have that, take the following steps to do a hip thrust:

  1. Set up the elevated object, for example a weight bench, in a stable way.
  2. Sit in front of the bench and lean back slightly so your shoulders are right over the edge. Put your feet flat on the ground and about shoulder-width apart. If you want to do weighted hip thrusts, put resistance on your hips.
  3. Slowly raise your hips until you are in a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  4. Lower your hips back to the ground in a controlled motion.

Hip thrusts are a good cable glute kickback alternative in that they isolate your glutes (butt) and hamstrings (back thighs) too.

Additionally, you will likely find it easier to do hip thrusts with a lot of weight compared to heavy glute kickbacks.

At least if you use some type of hip thrust equipment which will generally be necessary to grow and strengthen the strong muscles involved.

You may find it easier to do hip thrusts effectively at home too.

One downside of hip thrusts is that they require more time to set up than cable glute kickbacks.

2. Donkey kicks

Donkey kicks are an alternative that is even easier to do at home although you do want to keep a few things in mind.

Before seeing what these are, here are the steps to do a donkey kick:

  1. Sit on your hands and knees. Keep your arms slightly less than stretched and your shoulders above your hands.
  2. Raise one foot backward and upward until your thigh is horizontal. Keep your knee at a 90-degree angle throughout the movement.
  3. Lower this leg again so you are back in the starting position.
  4. Repeat the same movement with your other leg.
How to do a donkey kick

Both donkey kicks and cable glute kickbacks mainly focus on your glutes and hamstrings.

As briefly mentioned, these are some of the strongest muscles you have.

In turn, you need a lot of resistance to really grow and strengthen these muscles.

Bodyweight donkey kicks are usually not enough to offer this. Even with a pair of ankle weights the exercise could be too easy.

Additionally, there is a small difference in range of motion between donkey kicks vs glute kickbacks. This makes glute kickbacks just a bit more effective.

3. Squats

Squats have a slightly different focus than cable glute kickbacks but this in itself could be why some people prefer this alternative.

More specifically, squats focus more on your quadriceps (front thighs) and less on your glutes and hamstrings.

If this sounds good to you, you can take the following steps to do a squat:

  1. Stand upright with your feet about shoulder width apart.
  2. Slowly lower your body as far as comfortable by folding your legs. Keep your spine as straight as possible and your knees above your feet.
  3. Push yourself up again by stretching your legs in a controlled motion.
How to do a bodyweight squat

Similar to cable glute kickbacks, most people need at least some form of resistance to make bodyweight squats hard enough to see a lot of results.

More at-home-friendly equipment options include a workout sandbag or weighted vest.

For people with a (home) gym, a barbell setup is a great way to make this glute kickback alternative harder.

4. Romanian deadlifts

If you want similar results, Romanian deadlifts are definitely one of the top alternatives to cable glute kickbacks.

Take the following steps to do a Romanian deadlift with a barbell:

  1. Rack a barbell just below knee height. You will likely need to add a nice amount of weight plates.
  2. Grab the barbell, pick it up (potentially with some extra help from your legs), and take a few steps back so you have room to move. At this point, your feet should be about shoulder width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  3. Tilt your upper body forward as far as comfortable in a controlled motion. Keep your spine straight and make sure the weight plates don’t hit the ground.
  4. Slowly raise the barbell again by tilting your upper body back until you stand upright.

If a barbell setup is not an option, you can consider doing Romanian deadlifts with resistance bands or a workout sandbag too.

In any case, the glutes and hamstrings both Romanian deadlifts and cable glute kickbacks work will need a lot of resistance to grow and strengthen.

One potential downside of Romanian deadlifts is that they are relatively challenging for your grip muscles compared to glute kickbacks.

You can consider straps or grip pads to avoid fatiguing your forearms too soon.

5. Step-ups

Step-ups require some equipment too but they are still generally more at-home-friendly than cable glute kickbacks.

With a sturdy plyo box or something similar, you can follow this walkthrough to do a step-up:

  1. Stand upright in front of an elevated and stable platform. Ideally, this platform is slightly higher than knee height but adapt this to your capabilities and preferences.
  2. Put one foot on top of the platform. How far depends on your training goals but make sure your foot is entirely on the platform.
  3. Raise your body by stretching your highest leg. All the upward force should come from this leg.
  4. Tap your other foot on or against the platform.
  5. Lower your body again.
  6. Complete one set with the leg on one side and then do the same number of repetitions with the other leg.
How to do a step-up

Similar to some of the other cable glute kickback alternatives, step-ups work a few extra muscles.

More specifically, step-ups work your your quadriceps (front thighs) and to some extent your calves a good amount more.

Whether this is a benefit over cable glute kickbacks depends on your training goals and preferences.

One thing that people who work out at home will generally prefer is that you don’t need that much weight to make step-ups challenging enough.

6. Good morning

To do this next glute kickback alternative effectively you will need some form of resistance.

Barbell good mornings are popular but you can also use resistance bands, a workout sandbag, or gym machines like the smith machine.

Take the following steps to do a good morning with a barbell:

  1. Rack a barbell right below shoulder height. Add the desired number of weight plates.
  2. Put the barbell on your upper back, hold it in place with your arms, unrack the barbell, and take a step or two back. Keep your knees slightly bent.
  3. Tilt your upper body forward as far as comfortable (or horizontal) while keeping your spine straight.
  4. Slowly tilt your upper body back again until you are in the position of step 2.
  5. Rack the barbell again after your set is done.

The steps to doing a good morning sound and are familiar to Romanian deadlifts.

One thing that is different is that good mornings don’t work your grip muscles that much. Similar to glute kickbacks.

That aside, good mornings can be a great alternative to glute kickbacks for people who are short on time.

Because you work both legs at once, your good morning workouts will be shorter while your muscle engagement stays similar.

Something not everyone likes about the good morning is that it is a lot more challenging for your erector spinae (lower back).

At the same time, this can also lead to more strengthening as long as you don’t overdo it.

7. Pull-throughs

The equipment requirements for pull-throughs are relatively string.

To do this alternative to glute kickbacks you still need either a cable machine or good resistance bands.

Once you have one of these, take the following steps to do a cable pull-through:

  1. Lower the cable machine pulley as much as possible. Attach a double rope handle.
  2. Stand right in front of the cable machine with your face away from it. Grab the double rope handle through your legs and take a step forward.
  3. Bend your knees slightly and tilt your upper body forward as far as you comfortably can while keeping your spine straight.
  4. Slowly tilt your upper body back again so you stand as upright as comfortably possible.

By now you will likely understand that this hip extension movement works your glutes and hamstrings similar to cable glute kickbacks.

That being said, one big potential downside of pull-throughs is that they tend to be challenging on your forearm grip muscles.

If these muscles fatigue before your stronger glutes, hamstrings, and/or erector spinae, you are often missing out on important benefits.

On the other hand, one benefit of pull-throughs over glute kickbacks is that this alternative works both of your legs at the same time.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.